Lawrence H. Feder, Esq.
2450 Hollywood Blvd.
Suite 401
Hollywood, FL 33020

Dear Mr. Feder:

Thank you for your letter to Secretary Pena on behalf of your client, Mr. David Baret of Baby Comfort Inc., concerning the requirements of this agency for child restraint systems. Your letter was referred to my office for reply.

You explain in your letter that your client would like to sell child restraints manufactured abroad in the United States. However, the seats would apparently not be able to meet the dynamic performance requirements of Standard 213, AChild Restraint Systems,@ when tested according to the procedures of the standard. Those procedures specify that child seats such as those your client wishes to sell are to be secured to the test seat assembly with only a lap belt. You ask that the agency permit your client=s child seats to be tested with a lap and shoulder belt, instead of just the lap belt.

Your client wrote to my office in March asking whether the child restraints in question could be tested with a lap and shoulder belt. We explain in our response to Mr. Baret (copy enclosed) that Standard 213 requires his type of child seat to meet Standard 213's dynamic performance requirements when tested with only a lap belt. Certain types of child restraints are excepted from this testing requirement, but Mr. Baret=s restraint is not among these. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not have the authority to grant waivers from the testing or performance requirements of our safety standards, and can only change the requirements through a rulemaking proceeding.

I should note that we do not agree that testing the seat you describe with only a lap belt is inappropriate. Lap belts are provided in the rear seats of many older model vehicles still on the road, as well as in the rear center seating position of many newer model vehicles, which is generally the safest position for child seats. Because the restraint has its own harness system (unlike a belt-positioning seat), some consumers may not readily distinguish it from a conventional child seat and may mistakenly use it in a position that has a lap belt only. In view of such potential use, it would seem appropriate that the seat provide the minimum level of protection required by Standard 213 when restrained with a just a lap belt.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact Ms. Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.


Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel

Enclosure ref:213 d:4/29/96